Do crazy foods lead to crazy dreams? Some people swear that if they eat spicy food shortly before going to bed they’re bound to have nightmares, but is there really a correlation? Or, is it just an old wives’ tale? Previously, we’ve explored foods that promote sleep and foods that disrupt sleep. Today, we’re answering the question, “can common foods cause nightmares?” and we hope it helps in getting your whole family to sleep better!
Here’s what the experts say:
According to the doctors at the prestigious Mayo Clinic, “for some, eating right before bed — and the resulting boost in metabolism and brain activity — leads to nightmares.” Almost like any other food sensitivity, some people can be more susceptible to these biological fluctuations and specific compounds found in foods.
Are there any specific types of food linked to higher rates of nightmares? Indeed, there are, though the evidence is very limited. The Journal of the Mind and Body published an article in 2000 that recapped a small study showing that eating junk food like ice cream and candy bars too close to bedtime triggered more brain waves (not too surprisingly), causing more nightmares. And, Tore Nielsen, professor at the Université de Montreal and Director of the Dream and Nightmare laboratory at Sacré-Coeur Hospital says it’s “possible that spicy foods—or other foods such as dairy or greasy fast foods—at least occasionally induce nightmares or other bizarre dreams.” Again, some people appear to be more sensitive than others.
All in all, there’s currently not a lot of evidence showing a direct cause and effect between specific foods and nightmares per se, but it’s clear that certain foods can disrupt sleep which can, in turn, lead to nightmares. Our best advice? Avoid sweets, junk foods, and heavy foods before bed. And, if you notice certain foods trigger nightmares, by all means, stop eating them before you hit the hay — even if you’re the only person who’s ever experienced that type of reaction!
Are there certain foods that seem to cause nightmares for you or your kids? Let us know in the comments!